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As part of the project A Nation Engaged, NPR and member stations are exploring America's role in the world heading into the presidential election.

Everyone knew President Obama would say something about gay rights when he visited Kenya last summer. Many American activists were pressing him to publicly condemn Kenya's colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime.

The idea of black capitalism goes back many decades. Civil rights activists Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey advocated African-Americans creating and doing business with their own to build wealth in their community.

This summer, the killings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement rekindled campaigns to #BuyBlack and #BankBlack — but it's a call some supporters find difficult to heed.

Whether you're in Maine or Michigan, state fairs have their own smell — a mix of hot oil from the curly fries, and that unmistakable livestock tent.

One exhibit at this summer's Oregon State Fair, though, has a particularly distinctive funk. It's the one introducing a new crop: marijuana.

"It was this year that the state legislature designated cannabis as a farm crop. And the general public should know what it's all about," says Don Morse, the head of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council.

River Whyless is a quartet from North Carolina. They make folk music, and also pull in threads from other genres and cultures. The two lead singers and songwriters, Halli Andersen and Ryan O'Keefe, have both had their own musical projects in the past, and say they're still exploring what it means to write for a band — especially when a song comes from a particularly emotional place.

One of the Islamic State's top commanders and the man in charge of disseminating its propaganda was killed in Aleppo, Syria, the group's semi-official Amaq news service announced.

Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the news service said, was "martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo."

The report did not list a cause of death.

A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

When a young African-American man dies in the city of Philadelphia, more than half the time there's one main reason why, says Scott Charles.

"It's because somebody pointed a gun at him and pulled that trigger. It's not because of cancer; it's not because of car accidents; it's not because of house fires. It's because somebody pointed a trigger," he says.

President Obama shortened the prison sentences of 111 inmates Tuesday, including 35 people who had expected to spend the rest of their lives in federal custody, authorities told NPR.

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Spike Aerospace

A few years ago, entrepreneur Vik Kachoria was spending a lot of time up in the clouds flying from Boston to Europe to Asia. He had plenty of time to ponder this question: “Why aren’t we flying any faster?”

Computers have gotten faster, trains are faster, everything is faster. “In every industry we look at, except for aviation,” reasoned Kachoria.

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